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Yay For Catnaps February 21, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Human Body, Psychology and Behavior, Think About It.
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Yawn. Maybe you were up too late playing X-box or perhaps you spent a little too much time chatting on the phone with your friend last night. Or maybe you got enough sleep but were thinking to just relax and take a little catnap anyways. But wait, could that catnap actually give you benefits beyond just feeling a bit refreshed from the sleep?

According to some scientists in Germany, even super short catnaps can be enough to boost your performance in memory tests. Led by Dr Olaf Lahl, researchers at the University of Dusseldorf gathered up a group of students. They showed the students a set of words and then over the next hour, some students got to sleep for six minutes while others had to stay awake. The results? The students who had the nap did the best in recalling the words.

Replacing Old Stuff

Learning and Memory One thing you might find confusing about science is how it’s always changing! You’re not alone. New ideas replace the old and can totally change how we look at a problem. In this case, previous theories about sleep suggested that it took deep sleep – 20 minutes or more after falling asleep for memories to be processed. Yet, this new study showed that a mere six minutes of sleep enhanced memory. Lahl thinks that the moment of falling asleep begins a process in the brain that actually keeps going after a person wakes up. Lahl explains:

To our knowledge, this demonstrates for the first time that an ultra-brief sleep episode provides an effective memory enhancement.

Still, other scientists say that we should be careful before assuming that six minutes is enough time to make a difference in memory. Instead, they say we need more research into the area of sleep and memory. For now though, I just think that catnaps feel so nice and if they help my memory, that’s a big bonus! Zzzzz.

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1. David Bradley - February 22, 2008

I was going to comment 20 minutes ago, but guess what…

2. Miss Weird Scientist - February 22, 2008

Now now. No napping while at work. Mind you, I saw an ad for a new product that was made specifically for use at work. You close your eyes, stick on some ‘fake eyes’ over your lids, and have a wee snooze. The idea is that your boss is tricked into thinking you’re awake but instead, you’re off dreaming of winning the lottery.

3. Miss Weird Scientist - February 22, 2008

Oh, just a quick disclaimer – I’m in no way advocating that anyone use these at work or school. :P

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